Word Walls

There’s a lot of information related to the use of word walls – it’s one of those topics where you can never have enough ideas.   I’ve included some of my own in an eight page downloadable handout.  Check it out to see if there’s a new idea or two for you to use.  In this piece, I focus on word walls for MATHEMATICS.

Unpack the Content

Here is an example of a standard that needs to be unpacked. 

W.PS.01.01 Michigan

Develop personal style in oral, written, and visual messages in both narrative (e.g., natural language, specific action, emotion) and informational writing (e.g., sequence, specific vocabulary, visual representations).

Remember that part of unpacking a standard is determining what it is you want students to learn.  The standard provides insight as to what to include in the unpacking.  For the narrative writing, the standard states to develop personal style using natural language, specific action, and emotion.  For informational writing, the student is expected to develop personal style in sequencing, specific vocabulary, and visual representations.

 Here’s how I unpacked this piece after brainstorming with a wonderful group of first-grade teachers.  If you’re like me, it helps to see the big picture of the standard – which includes the content.

Once you’ve unpacked the standard, you have a content tool to use throughout the school year.  The list of actions gives you words at your fingertips you can use when talking with your first-grade students.  The list of emotions does the same.  In the sequence list, you’ll see starter ideas for the good things you’re already doing with your students; intentionally use sequencing words with students.  As for the column that lists visual representations, remember to pull out those sequence words and use them again and again and again.

Words Matter

A part of developing curriculum is that of determining core vocabulary a student needs in order to learn the concepts we want them to learn.  How important are words?

Take a look at this list of words I once shared with a group of Earth Science teachers.  I asked teachers to take the list and circle the words they had confidence their students would know at the moment in timeI asked them to do the task.  The time of the year was late spring – and just weeks away from a state test that students would be taking.

I also asked teachers to count the number of words they circled and figure out the percent of words they thought their students knew.  (This is an easy one since I put one hundred words on the list.)  We then looked at the data.

In a room of forty three teachers, not one indicated that their own students would know over fifty percent (50%) of the words on the list.  Now why is this important?  Because these words came from a state test;  from the released test items for Earth Science for the prior year’s end-of-course test.  Now why is that important?  If students do not know the words, they will not perform well on the test – whether it’s a state test or one of your own.   And guess whose job it is to make sure students learn the words?  That’s right – the classroom teacher, who hopefully teachers the words and related concepts in a direct and explicit way.

So here’s what I like to do.  Whenever I develop vocabulary lists, I like to look at the content words from released test items.  This is not the only place to go, but it is one source of developing solid lists.  If you haven’t done this yet for the tests for which you are accountable, give it a try.  Just go through each test item and circle all of the content words that students need to know in order to answer the questions.  Then use those words to refine your own vocabulary lists.  You’ll end up with lists that you really like to use.

Content Card – Scatterplots

One part of unpacking standards  is clarifying what it is we want students to learn.  It is not enough to simply look at nouns and verbs in curricular statements; we’ve got to go beyond that and figure out the specific content that students must learn.

One way to do this is to make a content card using  Frayer’s Model for vocabulary development.   The idea of using the model is to figure out the key content students should learn for a standard.   The visual below is a content card that I finished today.

Download a copy Content Card, Scatterplot.

ContentCard-Scatterplot

To get to the information for the card, I  reviewed the following for a standard from the Commonwealth of Virginia:  Standards of Learning for Mathematics, Curriculum Framework, Enhanced Scope and Sequence, and Released Assessments.

I enjoy working with these and I’ll continue to post any that I do.

Eleanor Roosevelt

In Virginia, first graders have the opportunity to learn about Eleanor Roosevelt – along with a number of other historical figures.  This is a small set of posters that I put together as a quick tool to help students learn a bit about Mrs. Roosevelt.  The set has ten posters and a few ideas about how to use them.

Eleanor Roosevelt

Click here to download the mini-posters about Eleanor Roosevelt.

Math Operations Chart

This is a  Math Operations Chart you may want to use to help students learn key vocabulary related to basic math operations.

MathOperationsChart

I also designed a brief teacher’s sheet with notes to go along with this.  The teacher’s sheet has questions you can use with students to help them learn to read and use the chart.

MathOperationsChartTeacherNotes

Things to Download

Full-sized Copy of the Math Operations Chart

Math Operations Chart and Teacher Notes

I Hope You Dance

 If you’re like me, you think that a big part of school world is helping students see inside themselves – all they are and all they can become.  When my stepdaughter graduated from high school many years ago, I shared the song and the lyrics to I Hope You Dance with her.  I wish I would have had this picture then!

DanceWithaStatue

Lyrics to I Hope You Dance – Lee Ann Womack 

I hope you never lose your sense of wonder
You get your fill to eat
But always keep that hunger
May you never take one single breath for granted
God forbid love ever leave you empty handed
I hope you still feel small
When you stand by the ocean
Whenever one door closes, I hope one more opens
Promise me you’ll give faith a fighting chance

And when you get the choice to sit it out or dance
I hope you dance
I hope you dance

I hope you never fear those mountains in the distance
Never settle for the path of least resistance
Living might mean taking chances
But they’re worth taking
Lovin’ might be a mistake
But it’s worth making
Don’t let some hell bent heart
Leave you bitter
When you come close to selling out
Reconsider
Give the heavens above
More than just a passing glance

And when you get the choice to sit it out or dance
I hope you dance
(Time is a real and constant motion always)
I hope you dance
(Rolling us along)
I hope you dance
(Tell me who)
I hope you dance
(Wants to look back on their youth and wonder)
(Where those years have gone)

I hope you still feel small
When you stand by the ocean
Whenever one door closes, I hope one more opens
Promise me you’ll give faith a fighting chance

And when you get the choice to sit it out or dance
Dance
I hope you dance
I hope you dance
(Time is a real and constant motion always)
I hope you dance
(Rolling us along)
I hope you dance
(Tell me who)
(Wants to look back on their youth and wonder)
I hope you dance
(Where those years have gone)

(Tell me who)
I hope you dance
(Wants to look back on their youth and wonder)
(Where those years have gone)